General Sessions Courts

General Sessions Courts

The kinds of cases handled by General Sessions Court vary from county to county.  Every county has this type of court.  The General Sessions Court handles both criminal and civil cases.

For criminal cases, General Sessions Court has authority over:

  • Preliminary hearings for felony cases, and
  • Misdemeanor trials if the defendant gives up his right to a grand jury investigation and trial by jury in a higher court.

General Sessions Court handles certain kinds of civil cases that do not involve more than a certain dollar amount. General Sessions judges also serve as juvenile judges except in counties where the legislature has set up separate Juvenile Courts. General Sessions judges are elected to 8-year terms.

Guidelines and Helpful Information for People with a Case in General Sessions Court

These guidelines are to assist people who represent themselves in court and to help any and all lay people (non-lawyers) who wish to have more guidance on what will happen in court and how to be better prepared for court.

General Sessions Courts have been encouraged by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s “Access to Justice Commission” to create guidelines assisting   non-lawyers who have cases in court.  This includes people who represent themselves and other lay people who may have lawyers but desire helpful information about appearing in court.

You are encouraged to use a lawyer for help when possible.  Lawyers have legal training and experience in appearing before a judge.  You may be able to get free legal aid.